After losing their grip on the division lead to the Royals earlier this week, the Tigers have now fallen behind the Mariners for the second Wild Card spot in the American League.
The Mariners defeated the Tigers 7-2 last night at Comerica Park in Detroit to extend their winning streak to five games. James Paxton tossed six innings of one-run ball in the victory while Robinson Cano went 2-for-4 with his 11th home run of the season. Rick Porcello struggled in the loss, giving up six runs (five earned) on 10 hits over six innings.
Losers of seven out of their last 10, the Tigers are currently 1 1/2 games behind the Royals in the American League Central and a half-game behind the Mariners for the second Wild Card spot. Still, there’s a long way to go in the season and Tigers manager Brad Ausmus told Jason Beck of MLB.com that this isn’t the time to panic.
“I’d much rather be in first place up by 15 games, but that’s not the case,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “We’re just going to keep going. There’s a ton of baseball left. We didn’t win tonight, but we can’t change it, so we’ll come back tomorrow against a very tough pitcher. But luckily for us, they’re going against a tough pitcher as well.”
The matchup Ausmus was alluding to is David Price vs. Felix Hernandez, which should be a lot of fun to watch later tonight.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.